Three lions most important on the England shirt – Southgate

England boss Gareth Southgate says having the Three Lions on the team's shirt is “the most important thing” amid the controversy over the St George's Cross design on the new kit.

Kit designer Nike has changed the look of the St. George's Cross on the back of the collar by adding purple and blue to the traditional red.

“It depends which part it is because I don't know if the debate is about the need for the St. George flag on the England shirt because it hasn't always been that way,” Southgate said.

“The most important thing that should be on an England shirt is the Three Lions. It is our iconic symbol.

“It is what sets us apart not only from other football teams around the world, but also from English rugby and cricket.”

He added: “What you're really asking is: 'Should we tamper with the cross of St. George?'.

“In my head: if it's not a red cross on a white background, then it's at least not the cross of Saint George. It's probably an artistic interpretation that I'm not creative enough to understand.”

The new England shirt features what Nike calls a “playful update” of the St George's Cross

England play Brazil on Saturday (19:00 GMT) before playing Belgium in back-to-back matches at Wembley on Tuesday. Southgate said the furore “has not taken away from what we have prepared”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer have both criticized the draft.

The Football Association supports the design of the kit and has no intention of recalling or changing the kit. The change to the St. George's cross is “intended as a tribute to the 1966 World Cup-winning team”.

“It is not the first time that different colored St George's Cross-inspired designs have been used on England shirts,” the FA said.

“We are very proud of the red and white St George's Cross, the English flag.

“We understand what it means to our fans, and how it unites and inspires, and it will be prominently displayed at Wembley on Saturday – as always – when England play Brazil.”

Nike had described the design as a “playful update” and the men's team will debut the shirt when England host Brazil.

“We have been a proud partner of the FA since 2012 and understand the meaning and importance of the St. George's Cross. It was never our intention to offend given what it means to England fans,” the sportswear manufacturer said.

“Together with the FA the intention was to celebrate the heroes of 1966 and their achievements.

“The piping on the cuffs is inspired by the training gear worn by England's 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blue and red topped with purple. The same colors also feature an interpretation of the flag on the back of the collar.”

'Much ado about nothing' – Barnes

Former England international John Barnes described the controversy over the colors on St. George's Cross as “much ado about nothing”.

“I didn't even know there was a flag on the back anyway, so I don't know what the fuss is,” he said.

“I think there would be a different conversation if you changed the Three Lions because that's England.

“They don't change the color of the shirt. The shirt is exactly the same.

“If there had been different Lions, or if they hadn't been there, that would have been a good debate for me.”


Alex Howell, BBC Sport football news reporter

Like most press conferences in England, there were a lot of talking points and questions asked of Gareth Southgate, but not all of them were related to matters on the pitch.

The day's discussion centered on the St George's flag on the back of the new England home shirt and whether it should have been changed by Nike.

Southgate has been an excellent spokesperson for the FA on a number of off-field issues including Covid, taking the knee, racism in football, the war in Ukraine and much more.

In recent camps, however, he has gone into less detail about off-field matters. This is the last camp before he names his training squad for the European Championships and he is keen to continue the conversation on football matters.

When asked about the change to the St. George's flag on the new shirt, Southgate's response showed he does not want to dwell on an issue that even the Prime Minister has been involved in before a few key games in the run-up to the European Championships this summer. .

Southgate has also been in the media spotlight this week with links to the manager's job at Manchester United, where Erik ten Hag has come under pressure.

However, the England manager shut down any further discussion about his future several times during this press conference.

Southgate said his sole job is to organize a European Championship and he thinks it is disrespectful to comment on a track when a manager is in post.

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